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How to Unlock Mental Acuity

Jul 12, 2021 | All Posts, Clarity, Goal Setting, Mindfulness, Physical Health, Self actualization

Acuity means clearness, sharpness of sensory function.

No kidding, personal wellness has become a hot topic recently! 😆

The majority of interest in this subject is focused on physical wellness. But there’s a growing interest in maintaining a healthy brain and cognitive ‘sharpness’ too.

1. Physical wellness is super important of course. A strong immunity system is particularly desired these days, and indeed, it’s the first pillar of cognitive performance. And to boost the brain’s performance, I’m sure you know the usual suspects:

  • Sleep
  • Healthy food
  • Physical activity.

Sleep deprivation is so mainstream we don’t notice the symptoms anymore. Yet, it can impact your cognitive function as much as 5 pints of beer! Would you drink that then go negotiate that new deal afterward?? 🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺

Everyone likes to feel good and be sharp. Maintaining healthy brain function is imperative, if you’re going to remain competitive and competent in the workplace, business, sports and creative endeavours. It is no less important in supporting good personal relationships & quality of life overall. If you want to be sharp, you need to take care of your cognitive acuity.

Consider physical wellness as the first level of the pyramid. And then let’s move up to the next level.

2. Developing a mindfulness practice is underrated. Meditation’s come a long way from its roots in ancient, contemplative traditions. Scientists have tackled the topic and evidenced strong benefits on mental & cognitive health.

Let’s start with gratitude that is grounded in a lot of neuroscience: it can boost your immune system, improve mental health, relationships & increase optimism.

Meditation offers multiple, science-based benefits including reduced stress, enhanced awareness, lengthened attention span.

Breathwork is another amazing trick to regulate the nervous system & optimise mental sharpness. It is so efficient that Navy SEALs developed the ‘tactical breathing’ or ‘box breathing’ technique:

  • Breathe in through your nose for a count of 4
  • Hold your breath for 4
  • Release your breath through your mouth for 4
  • Keep it empty for another 4
  • Repeat.

Long, deep breaths kick the parasympathetic nervous system into gear, and this is why -by the way- smoking may seem so relaxing!

Now, are you ready for level 3 that will send your mental sharpness levels off the chart?

3. Set clear goals.

That’s it? 😲🤨 Yep, being clear on where you want to go, and exactly how you’re going to get there, is incredibly important for focus. Without clear goals, we can’t direct our attention & we get stuck in analysis mode.

Imagine you’re driving your car, not sure which way to take: most likely you’d go slow to see cues. But you’d go much faster, if you knew the way.

The prefrontal cortex that drives complex cognitive behaviour, such as decision making, is overactive without set goals. The brain is busier trying to determine what direction to go than moving forward.

The good news is: you don’t need super detailed planning to harness the benefits of goal setting. The ironic part is: when it comes to unlocking mental acuity, it’s better to move forward, even in the wrong direction, than to stay static & avoid moving forward at all.

However, if you want to make sure you’re moving in the right direction, so you remain fulfilled along the way, make sure you know yourself and set goals that are aligned with your higher purpose. 😉

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